Aaron Rodgers threw three touchdowns, two of them to Greg Jennings, as the Green Bay Packers defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25 on Sunday to win their fourth Super Bowl and first in 14 years.
The Steelers’ attempt to produce the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history - they trailed 21-3 in the second quarter - largely failed due to three turnovers.
Rodgers, voted the game’s MVP, cast aside the shadow of his predecessor, Brett Favre, as he got his hands on the Lombardi Trophy, named after Green Bay’s legendary former coach Vince Lombardi.
The Packers lost veteran receiver Donald Driver and trusted cornerback Charles Woodson to injuries but their back-up players delivered the goods.
“It was the great resolve of our football team. We had some practice (this season) of guys going down and other players stepping up,” head coach Mike McCarthy said after the Packers claimed their 13th NFL championship..
“It was a very emotional halftime for our football team. We had some bumps in the third quarter but it was just a tremendous effort and coach Lombardi’s trophy is finally going back home.”
Green Bay took a 14-0 lead in the first quarter as Rodgers delivered a 29-yard touchdown strike to Jordy Nelson before cornerback Nick Collins intercepted a Ben Roethlisberger pass and returned it 37 yards for a score.
The Steelers got on the board with a field goal in the second quarter but then Rodgers again showed his class to pick out Jennings in the end zone with a 21-yard pass and make it 21-3.
Pittsburgh fought back, with Roethlisberger hitting Hines Ward on an eight-yard scoring pass 39 seconds before halftime and when Rashard Mendenhall powered over with an eight-yard run early in the third to reduce the deficit to 21-17, the momentum looked to have shifted.
But a third turnover from the Steelers led to a Packers scoring drive, with a key 38-yard pass to Nelson setting up the second Jennings touchdown as Green Bay looked to regain the initiative.
Still the Steelers searched for a way back and found one when Mike Wallace collected a 25-yard touchdown pass from Roethlisberger. Antwaan Randle El’s two-point conversion run sliced the Packers’ lead to 28-25.
A 23-yard field goal from Mason Crosby with just over two minutes left gave the Packers some breathing room and their defense held firm.
Despite several dropped balls by his receivers, Rodgers completed 24 of 39 passes for 304 yards and did not throw an interception.
“This a great group of men that we’ve put together here,” said Rodgers. “A lot of character. Been through a lot together. It’s just great to be able to share it with them.”
Roethlisberger, seeking his third Super Bowl ring, completed 25 of 40 attempts for 263 yards and two touchdowns but threw two costly pickoffs.
“We turned the ball over and a lot of that is my fault,” said Roethlisberger.
Pittsburgh outgained the Packers in total yards, 387-338, largely to a 126-50 advantage on the ground.